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DATE=5/22/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-249676 TITLE=SUDAN/NIMEIRI (L-ONLY) BYLINE=LISA BRYANT DATELINE=CAIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: FORMER SUDANESE PRESIDENT JAFAAR NIMEIRI RETURNED HOME SATURDAY AFTER 14 YEARS IN EXILE IN EGYPT. FROM CAIRO, LISA BRYANT REPORTS THAT MR. NIMEIRI HAS URGED OTHER SUDANESE OPPOSITION LEADERS TO GO BACK AS WELL. TEXT: FORMER PRESIDENT NIMEIRI RECEIVED A RESOUNDING WELCOME AS THOUSANDS OF SUPPORTERS TURNED OUT TO GREET HIM, AND A LARGE DELEGATION OF HIGH-LEVEL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS MET HIS PLANE, WHICH LANDED IN KHARTOUM AT ABOUT 10 A-M LOCAL TIME. MR. NIMEIRI, WEARING FLOWING WHITE ROBES AND A TURBAN, KNELT IN PRAYER ON THE TARMAC, AND WAVED TO HIS SUPPORTERS. LATER, THE FORMER PRESIDENT TOLD REPORTERS HE WANTED TO HELP BUILD A POLITICAL ORGANIZATION AND BRING PEACE TO SUDAN. HIS AIM, HE SAID, WAS NOT TO SEEK POLITICAL POWER. BUT IN AN INTERVIEW WITH V-O-A EARLIER THIS MONTH, MR. NIMEIRI DID NOT RULE OUT A PRESIDENTIAL BID, IF ELECTIONS WERE HELD WITHIN TWO YEARS, AND IF HIS SUPPORTERS WANTED HIM TO RUN. MEANWHILE, THE SUDANESE GOVERNMENT HAS REPORTEDLY RENOVATED A HOME FOR MR. NIMEIRI, AND SUPPORTERS ARE PLANNING A RALLY FOR HIM NEXT WEEK. AS SUDAN'S PRESIDENT BETWEEN 1969 AND 1985, MR. NIMEIRI PRESIDED OVER A RARE 10-YEAR PERIOD OF PEACE IN THE COUNTRY, WHICH HAS BEEN FIGHTING A CIVIL WAR ON AND OFF SINCE INDEPENDENCE. BUT MR. NIMEIRI'S IMPOSITION OF ISLAMIC SHARIA LAW IN 1983 ALIENATED MOSTLY CHRISTIAN AND ANIMIST SOUTHERN SUDAN, AND TRIGGERED RENEWED FIGHTING. BEFORE LEAVING FOR SUDAN, MR. NIMEIRI TOLD AN ARABIC NEWSPAPER HE BELIEVED TWO OF SUDAN'S MAIN OPPOSITION LEADERS -- FORMER PRIME MINISTER SADIQ EL MAHDI AND THE HEAD OF AN OPPOSITION UMBRELLA GROUP, MOHAMMED OSMAN AL MIRGANI -- SHOULD ALSO RETURN TO SUDAN. MR. EL MAHDI, WHO MET WITH A KEY SUDANESE LEADER IN GENEVA THIS MONTH, HAS SAID THE GOVERNMENT AND OPPOSITION PARTIES MAY MEET IN THE NEAR FUTURE. BUT OPPOSITION GROUPS HAVE CRITICIZED THE MEETING, AND SAY THE GOVERNMENT IS TRYING TO DIVIDE THEM. THE SUDANESE GOVERNMENT ALSO APPEARS TO BE TRYING TO MEND FRAYED TIES WITH NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES, INCLUDING ERITREA AND EGYPT. AN EGYPTIAN DELEGATION FLEW TO SUDAN THIS WEEK, TO RECOVER PROPERTIES ANNEXED BY THE SUDANESE GOVERNMENT. (SIGNED) NEB/LB/ALW/GE 22-May-99 11:22 AM EDT (1522 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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